The Most Overwhelming Work of God’s Love
Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday 2020
The Palm Sunday celebration always begins
by recalling the “triumphal” entry of Jesus into Jerusalem,
cloaks and palm branches covering His pathway...
Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!
Jesus’ arrival fulfills a prophecy from the prophet Zechariah (9:9):
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey.
I can’t help but think of buck-tooth Donkey from Shrek.
Why not a little more Marvel super-hero,
with Jesus seated upon a noble and strong white horse,
like that magnificently referenced twice in the Book of Revelation?
In chapter 6 (verse 2):
… a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him,
and he came out conquering and to conquer.
In chapter 19 (verse 11):
… a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True,
and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
Now we’re talking triumphal. But a donkey? Really? Why?
Perhaps, because the King of Peace, not a super-hero, not here to make war,
as we understand and tragically experience it.
The apparent lack of triumph may perhaps be disappointing for some of us.
Jesus’ arrival also fulfils the first part of the same prophecy from Zechariah:
“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.”
We need not be afraid.
God always keeps His promises!
Our King is coming and coming humbly.
The humble arrival means that Jesus enters
every frightening situation that may be ours,
When it comes to God, to Jesus, “triumphal” refers to love not power.
True love can reach that which we deem unreachable. That is triumph.
Jesus is definitely powerful, all-powerful,
but His power is always at the service of His love.
He has no ego issues, no need to manifest prowess.
As suggested, we are not simply remembering a past event.
We continue to celebrate, to experience triumphal entry
each time the Lord comes.
We do so in a special way when we gather around this altar.
Indeed, as we move to the altar in our celebration, we proclaim
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
The Eucharist, Communion is a “triumphal” entry.
The Eucharist is our King coming, humbly, in the silence of divine love.
“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.”
Today’s celebration opens this Holy Week.
Love is what makes this week holy.
I know that I’ve referred to this definition many times…
I will continue to do so until it makes its way onto your fridge
or into your diary or even somewhere in your phone:
“Holiness is the purity of divine love” (St. Thomas Aquinas, +1274),
And, as St. Paul says in I Corinthians 13: “Love never fails”.
And, as St. Paul of the Cross, 17th-century Italian monk and mystic, says,
The Passion of Christ
is the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love.
Jesus is King in laying down His life for us.
This is what love does—and love must do.
Our King of Peace, comes to reign in mercy, not by “lording it over us.”
He comes to reign from within, in our hearts.
Not always easy to believe or grasp, for triumphant kings normally do not die.
Our King suffers and dies--in order fully to reign as king.
And, along the journey to His death, Jesus willingly suffers
everything that normally “kills” the human heart:
If you think that there are deal-breakers in your life: this isn’t really for you,
this much love is impossible, think twice.
The Christ Who is coming to us loves even the betrayer,
and He suffers our insults with love’s ultimate expression, forgiveness.
We worship a Savior who “did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited”, but humbled and emptied himself
“to the point of death, even death on a cross”,
a Savior Who thus can save us from death and its cause, sin,
Who can save us, when needed, from our selves.
We worship a God who pursues us with relentless, daunting love
and Who ultimately will enter the darkness and dankness of the grave
to say even here, here I will not be without you.
Although the suffering in our lives and world may incline you to think
that God stands an observer at a distance, on safe sidelines, think twice.
His abundant grace is hiding in, with, and under all the brokenness.
Let us lay our hearts on the path for Christ, and be in awe of
and surrender to the One Who “cometh in the name of the Lord.”